American sprinter Justin Gatlin, an Olympic gold medalist who has twice received doping bans in the past, is being investigated by anti-doping authorities following a published report that said Gatlin and members of his immediate circle allegedly offered to supply banned substances to reporters posing as a film production crew.
The Telegraph report published Monday said the undercover reporters traveled to Gatlin’s Florida training camp and presented that they were making a film about athletics, and that they needed help training a male actor so he could get in shape.
According to the Telegraph report, Gatlin’s coach, Dennis Mitchell, and a sports agent named Robert Wagner “offered to supply and administer testosterone and human-growth hormone for an actor training for a film.” The report also said the drug products would come from an Austrian doctor. Wagner and Mitchell were secretly recorded stating that performance-enhancing drug use is still rampant in sports and they explained how athletes can avoid testing positive, according to the Telegraph report. Wagner also allegedly said that Gatlin had been using performance-enhancing drugs. Gatlin, according to the report, denied the claims in a statement and fired Mitchell, a former Olympic gold medalist.
“These allegations are very serious and strike at the heart of the integrity of athletics,” said Brett Clothier, the head of the Athletics Integrity Unit, an independent entity whose mission is to ensure clean sports competition. The AIU operates separately from the international governing body, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).
Justin Gatlin is reportedly being investigating by anti-doping authorities.
“The IAAF Anti-Doping Code and Code of Conduct applies not just to athletes, but also athlete support personnel,” Clothier said. The AIU will cooperate with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency to investigate the matter, Clothier and USADA confirmed.
The Telegraph report mirrors in some ways an Al-Jazeera documentary released two years ago, in which an athlete went undercover to expose alleged PED use in sports. That documentary, “The Dark Side,” featured secretly-recorded conversations with alleged dealers and, at least on one occasion, a professional baseball player admitting on camera to his use of banned substances.
“Investigations stemming from tips and whistleblowers play a critical role in anti-doping efforts,” said USADA in a statement. “As with all investigations, we encourage individuals with information to come forward as an important tool to help protect clean athletes. Importantly, individuals are innocent unless and until the established process determines otherwise. It’s only fair to let due process occur before jumping to any conclusions.”
Gatlin, 35, has been banned twice – in 2001 after testing positive for amphetamines, and in 2006 for synthetic testosterone. He received an eight-year ban for the latter violation, but it was later reduced to four years. Gatlin won a gold medal in the 100 meters at the 2004 Athens Olympics. He beat Jamaican and eight-time Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt in the 100 meters at the IAAF world championships in London this past summer.
Justin Gatlin, 35, has been banned twice – in 2001 after testing positive for amphetamines, and in 2006 for synthetic testosterone.
(Bruna Prado/Getty Images)
“These allegations are extremely serious and I know the independent Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) will investigate in accordance with its mandate,” IAAF president Seb Coe said in a statement. “Under the IAAF Rules, all athlete support personnel – agents, coaches etc – are bound by both the IAAF anti-doping code and IAAF integrity code of conduct. The AIU has investigative powers and the independent Disciplinary Tribunal has sanction powers for those found in breach of these.”
Gold medal winner United States’ Justin Gatlin, right, knees in front of Jamaica’s Usain Bolt, who won bronze, after the men’s 100m final during the World Athletics Championships.